PHINNEY | PRIVATE JOURNAL
Welcome to my private journal. The following entries are the personal struggles and victories as I walk through my journey into the indwelling Life of Christ. Each is raw, real and uncut. Feel free to provide questions, and/or feedback as you read.
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General Access Has Been Restricted Due to Hacking of My Sabbatical Site
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The Camel Rider's Journal. Today I woke up to a resource sent by a dear friend, "The Camel Rider's Journal" by David Garrison. John sent this resource to me due to my love for reaching the Muslim community. Facts are, more Muslims are coming to Jesus Christ for indwelling Life than at any other time in Church history. While I understand that the "average" Christian views these precious people as our enemy, which they are by organic traits, but...this group is probably the best target for our end times objective. If you have a passion to reach the descendants of Abraham's actual firstborn son - Ishmael, this is the resource for you. Check Here.
I blew out my graphics card. As "fate" would have it, while I was producing the movie trailer for Paramount - Terminator, Dark Fate, my system began to crash many times over. The end product was significantly flawed. Since the average eye doesn't catch the rendering flaws, on the other hand, Paramount and a producer caught each flaw. It will affect my standing but they said they would consider the CPU issue. I first thought, "serves your right." Then I was reminded of the powerful lesson God provided through this venture. Not to mention the new job opportunities and the opening of the IM Media Production outreach - pay per service. View the public release trailer for our new adventure - IM Media Gone Wild. This was a sample media bite I was asked to present to a "client," of a mainstream denomination. Well, long story short. After multiple system crashes and glitches, with rendering flaws, it took 4 times longer to produce this 1-minute clip - 8.5 hours to be exact. Not good for production costs.
While I am thankful for close friends stepping up and donating $200 toward this $786 need for a new graphics card, we still are burdened with a $500 need. Please pray about this. Now with two new client jobs on the table, I am stalled.
During this sabbatical, when I appealed to the Lord for His method of taking care of our ministry needs, His answer was the same as He has stated many times over - Put your trust in Me. I can't tell you how tough this is for both Jane and me. Our ministry is growing exponentially, while the donor circle is remaining the same. Another item to pray regarding.
I will continue these journal entries as time permits. As some of my closest confidants know, I have been on a partial sabbatical since July. Meaning, while maintaining my online responsibilities, I have refrained from most local ministry endeavors - as in pastoring our local church, in-house discipleship & social activities. The objective was to remove as many distractions as possible. Little did I realize I was about to enter one of the darkest transitions of my life.
My first day was filled with 18 hours of demons screaming lies. This horrid time was broken up by an angel arriving to chase away the domain of darkness. I will save the gory details for my autobiography, but...I will tell you this, it was raw, real and ideal for the Lord to get my attention. And that He did.
I spent many of days & weeks facing these waves of despair. I experienced the lowest of the low to the highest of praise. I was faced with the embrace of my two loves, comfort and despair. Loving despair? Yes. Even though both are ideological, and fruitless to behold, it was a place I discovered my love for despair. Much like a love-affair. During this dark time, I came to know a new level of my love of the self-life. Wicked as this sounds, it is true. My flesh is heavily cloaked in self-pity. The addictive kind.
At the beginning of my sabbatical, the Lord took me to the story of Jacob wrestling with an angel (Gen. 32). Here is the bad news I heard. The Lord revealed this will be my journey in the near days, weeks & months. I thought, "Really God?" Not only was this the case, but I also came out with a permanent scar. The type of scar that reminds me daily of what it looks like in that dark place where the flesh wages war with the Spirit. One of my counselors stated, "Few have been given the privilege of seeing this place. You have. Cherish it." It is a place I hope never to visit again. It is dark, torturous, and demands separation.
The good news, it separated me from my flesh.
Today, I am more focused on the Spirit of Truth. I see life as one single opportunity to advance the mission & vision of Jesus Christ. I find myself making use of every opportunity available to proclaim His indwelling. Yesterday I was faithful to His message, today I am faithful to His Life.
Even though this sabbatical will continue until the Lord releases me, I am assured I am through the roughest part of the storm - God willing. Stay tuned. I certainly will.
I have been asked to do two additional trailers. The first is for a popular Christian musician, by way of a music trailer covering bits of each of his songs in his new album. The second is a progressive short-film for a leading denomination. Yes, this all came out of the Terminator trailer. Godological reasoning is beginning to unfold.
I blew out my graphics card. While producing the trailer, my system began crashing - repetitively. After finishing my contest trailer, Paramount & a review producer noticed a failing CPU graphics card issue, which caused rendering sync problems. I submitted this data to my IT guy in Hutchinson, sure enough, my graphics card overloaded and is failing. My already high-end computer has had glitches since. The worst part is, due to my level of productions, my upgrade card is $2,487. The good news is my IT guy will sell me his from his store display at the tune of $768. Well, that is still like a million bucks for me. Now having two actual jobs on the table, I am stalled out.
One step forward and two behind. My mother told people as I was growing up, "Stephen makes one step forward and two behind." If she only knew how true this is. For the fun of it, I did the math on this covering a span of forty years. The outcome revealed the obvious. I never get ahead of the game. With a sharp reminder from the Lord, He reminded me of this being the standard of His people. He further revealed that our enemy always dangles a carrot in front of us, hoping to deceive the Lord's people with the ridiculousness of this ideology. Since there's only One Story, God's sovereignty & how He works in our lives for good & His purposes, a new doctrine is being proclaimed. This is the single most "oneliner" that is coming forth from my sabbatical. God has made it clear to me that sovereignty requires being still and waiting. In my high-achieving mind, there is no logic to this. It rubs in the face of what my mother told others. As you probably have guessed by now, a confession of renouncing is in order. Today, I confess this.
My precious Groom, I confess that the belief statement my mother embedded into my soul, 'One step forward and two behind' - is an outright lie in your Kingdom. How can a God of sovereignty who knows & has control over the future steps of mankind be behind? Irony oh Lord. I repent of covertly calling you a liar. You are always many steps ahead in order to manage the steps of man. Thank you for hiding the future to block us from attempting to control it. My flesh is a 'control-freak.' Today, I choose to trust in your methods of provision and purposes.
Why I did Terminator - Dark Fate movie trailer. As many of my readers know I just finished producing a controversial movie trailer for Paramount Pictures. Last week, I was invited to submit a sample video to a contest in order to introduce amateur producers to the movie industry. I thought, "why not." I sent them a recent production called, "The Original Rome." To my surprise, I was invited to the next level. With that surprise came a serious challenge for me - we were required to produce a trailer for the "Terminator - Dark Fate." You would have to know me but...that was the worst topic you could have asked me to work on. I hate cyborg. It's demonic. Due to my passion to enter the market of helping Christian film companies produce quality movies, and their commitment to accomplish just that - I had a war in my soul.
See why. Watch the trailer HERE.
Back in my [9-10-2019] entry, you can review the dream I had regarding how demons look and function. The key common denominator I discovered was how these demons could liquify, particularly the main demon upstairs that was attempting to pull a child into its liquid stomach. If you remember, the illumined one told me to go back and point my finger at the demon inches away from its stomach - without touching it, release the indwelling Light - and "fry" it. This moment in my dream is what marked the final victory.
Now the connection. Fifteen days later, I was asked to do this movie trailer. When I discovered the theme, I was ready to abort the contest. After talking to Jane, she encouraged me to follow through. After being a bit shocked that she felt I should move forward, I did. While I was producing the trailer, and having to integrate 100+ elements, my dream came alive. First, I realized that creator James Cameron was "divinely" inspired. Secondly, his mission was to explain the Biblical elements of the Book of Revelation through demonics, by way of cyborgs. It was then I realized why I was to "play a part" in this contest.
Even though there is little chance of winning this contest (Nov. 1st), this opportunity has already opened the door to dialogues between me and several producers - with being able to reveal where James got this story, either by "divine" intervention or other means AND what the real version is all about. I don't know what the future holds for the full reasons contained in this contest, but I am eager to find out.
Lord help me in my unbelief. Immediately the boy's father cried out and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief." (Mark 9:24) I have read this passage scores of times over the years. Today when I read it, a new Truth stood out.
Even though the context of this passage is dealing with a father suffering from unbelief due to his son's seizures since childhood, the lesson revealed is mind-bending. As I, the father DID believe but obviously there was enough unbelief that affected the deliverance of a miracle.
I have never known despair as I am experiencing. As soon as I surface for air, wame, back down for more permissible suffocation. Presently, all I am hearing is, "The ministry you return to will not be the same as you have known it." I need prayer like never before. Not generalized Christian prayers but true intercession. Something like:
Lord Jesus, grant Steve supernatural strength through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Help him in his unbelief. Open his heart and mind to the specific Truth you are revealing to him personally, spiritually, and regarding the ministry, you have called him. Cause him to accept Your reproach for any hardness of heart and unbelief. Teach him that his unbelief does not nullify Your faithfulness. Release him to surface from his inner sufferings with fervent love, passion, and immovable walk-in & through You.
If you are open to praying something like this prayer for 30-days, I would deeply appreciate it. Click here if you commit to doing so. Thank you!
I recently received grievous statistical news. The culture war is over, and we came out on the losing side—but only for a while. The Body of Christ is rebuking Satan by the droves to somehow stop the downward cycle of a losing battle. How arrogant are we? A “believer” can rebuke Satan all day long but if Satan is under orders to do what he is doing, they’re spitting in the wind. On the other hand, if Satan is under permission to sift the Church, the Lord still uses him to cause the Bride of Christ to submit therefore to God, resist Satan and he will flee from you. The disciple becomes a better disciple. Rebuking and resisting are two different animals. Rebuking should never be our objective. Submitting unto God should be. The church is being sifted like sand. The end results? The golden nuggets of the Body of Christ will remain.
Those who know me know that I grieve deeply for the Lord's Church. I am always flabbergasted by the Church's attempts in stopping, minimally slowing down the predestined end times. Satan's most dramatic role in church history is embedded within the prophecies of the end times. No human or spirit will stop one jot or tittle from occurring or being fulfilled. Why are "Christians" so adamant in their pursuits of blocking the Lord's prophecies from occurring? This is beyond a mystery to me.
We live in a society where the average believer touts name it, claim it, stab it, and slab it. This lifestyle is not only found in the Prosperity Gospel circles but in mainstream Christianity. The world is filled with humans, saved or not, who need to survive by refuting negativity. It’s a shame though. God started the whole of the world with the permission-based counter-culture of negativity, rooted in the Tree of Knowledge. Why? Because He is God. Nobody knows the full range of God’s goals for Satan. Nobody understands His infinite purpose of using His enemy. But…one thing we can see, if our eyes are open, He strategically uses the world, our flesh and the devil for His good. Don’t fret, He’s not done. His final punishment for Satan is yet to come and all those who adopted his original violation - You too can be like God.
My sabbatical resolve of the day, until the Lord is finished with the end times, He will continue to use Satan to admonish His people, lead the unsaved to Christ, and remind the humble that our God is a sovereign God. The majority of the church today seems to think that God’s work with the devil is finished. If that was the case, the unfolding of the book of Revelation is for not. While few “believers” would step forward and say this, the lion’s share tends to live as if it is finished. At this juncture, the only thing that is finished is the finished work of the Cross. As for the finished work of Satan, well, that is still upon us.
Be sure to read my article, "Permission-Based Sifting." Public release date is October 7th.
A message from a "dumbfounded" reader.
I read your latest sabbatical entry yesterday while on a break at work and I was struck dumb by the adversity I read from the email you received. I wanted to respond, to encourage you in the Lord but I was completely dumbfounded and could not speak. I was numb for the rest of the day. You speak about this kind of adversity in the Abiding Life Series which I have just started to listen. People want to shut you up, brother. Why? Because you speak Absolute Truth and the liars want the lie.
One thing that is starting to dawn on me more and more, which I am glad for, is that truly our struggle is not with man but with Satan and the powers of darkness. My hope is that I would completely lose sight of man and see only Satan behinds these attacks. When I see it as man, I become angry, but when I see it as Satan, I become motivated to fight the good fight of faith and war in prayer for you and your family.
This morning the Lord lead me to 1 Corinthians Chapter 4. So often when I read Pauls words I think of you. Paul says, starting in verse 10, "We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now. I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. (1 Corinthians 4:10-15) I see His calling for both Paul and you in verse 15.
"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18)
Thank you, for your willingness to be a fool for Christ sake.
I love the words from Psalms 37:10 which says, "Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. (Psalms 37:10)."
Oh, dear brother, Glory is coming. This present suffering does not compare to the glory that awaits you but in the meantime, He truly is glorified in and through you. -SL | Nevada
Prosperity Gospel at its best. As most who stay in touch with Christian news has probably heard that Benny Hinn has renounced his beliefs in the Prosperity Gospel. We published an article shortly after his confession. Wow. What a "fire-storm" that article created. People throughout the world have been seriously offended by leaders who have abused the Body of Christ to pay for their wealthy appetites.
On Monday, the day the article came out, I received a 3-page email letter from a "friend" of many years - accusing me of using family, friends, and strangers to advance myself financially, as well as a host of other diabolical accusations. Instead of "blowing off" this letter as more "hate-mail," I submitted it to several leaders who know me well for their discernment. Why? I wanted to squeeze every ounce of potential lessons God might have for me in this letter.
While the letter was considered "a cleverly decorated hate mail styled letter," I decided to take a day to seriously contemplate its content. I needed to find out what Truth can be extracted from these statements. Honestly, I grieved for hours, not over the content but the betrayal of friendship. Even though I was accused of denying the faith and that I was worse than an unbeliever, the Lord was able to sustain Jane and me throughout our grieving process.
Worthless husband, father & ministry leader. If I depended on the well-contrived words and hidden messages, this is what my flesh was tempted to walk away with. Did I? Yes, but only for several hours. At 3:30 in the afternoon, as par for the Lord's norm, He said put your hands on the keyboard. I did. And something very unusual happened. One of the first times in ministry, I didn't have a single word in my mind to type. This was very unusual for me. While sitting there staring at the screen, an email comes in. An email that challenged me to address the core of my mission - proving the indwelling Life of Christ. Speaking of "fire-storms," I was inspired to say the least. A message came forth (release date, Oct. 14) that certainly was Holy Spirit inspired. Today, I am riding the wave of despair instead of being consumed by it.
You're an idiot for posting your struggles. You got that right. You know me, I looked it up. An idiot in the Latin, a stupid person. In the Hebrew its, a friend of oppression. Well, my flesh has certainly been a friend of oppression. That's the truth. The lie part is - it's who I am. Not! In Christ, I behold the mind of Jesus. Plus, what if the Lord is requesting of me to post these struggles? Is He an idiot? Stupid is as stupid says.
Reducing the image size. Today I began the tedious process of reducing my personalized internet imprint. Many years ago I was counseled to use my name and picture to get to the top of the search engines. The rationale given to me was internet trollers, thrive on individual authors and their pictures. I must say. They were right on target. This is exactly what happened.
It has always been our ministry's objective to slowly reduce my personal imprint after the ministry was well established on the internet. That day has arrived. Even though I am completely aware of the modality of internet imprints, meaning, they will always be there, I also understand the method of migrating personalized imprints to SEO content imprints. It will take me about a year to accomplish this. You can add this to your prayer list.
There is power in a name. The facts are, I have been known through the years as a "name-dropper." That is until I became a name to drop. A major shift happened in my soul when this began to happen. My flesh loved it but...a restlessness slowly overtook my soul. Today I realize that the above-stated strategy might have been effective but it was inciting my need to have love, affection, and attention from people rather than from God. Furthermore, it constantly rubbed in the face of, "He who thinks he is something when he is nothing, deceives himself." (Gal. 6:3)
I will continue to be a name-dropper. The psychological dynamics of being a "name-dropper" is simple. When an individual has a self-perspective that their own name has no power, and worse yet, others do not consider what they have to say as important, they use a more familiar name to state their point. Since this modality works seamlessly, a habit is formed. Over the past few years, I have noticed a brisk change in this nasty habit. Part of it comes from my knowledge of each of these leaders put on their pants the same way I do, but the more critical revelation is in my new habit of dropping the name of Christ. Intellectually speaking, most indwelt Christians know there is power in the name of Jesus but many of us deny the power thereof. Through the years I have been one of them. Through my sabbatical, the Lord has inspired me to be a "name-dropper" - of His name, while believing in the power thereof. This is now a part of my renewed commission.
Strange Dreams. Recently I had a dream of sorts, probably more like a vision because I was awake. Needless to say, it was a visual I will not forget soon. I was laying in a wooden casket much like you would see in a western movie. The lid of the casket was on top but angeled in such a way that my face & feet were visible. As I was looking at this scene unfold, a hand with a fist full of nails came into view from the left. I instantly shook my head repetitively until I came out of it.
Throughout the day after having this vision, I battled with not being able to get enough air - literally. Since the day I "flatlined" by way of suffocation during the peak of my heart-failure, my flesh has developed a bit of a phobia surrounding suffocation. I have asked the Lord to remove this many times but...as His sovereignty would have it, He has kept it in play. I am not going to psychoanalyze God's logic but I will appeal to Him as to what I am being required to embrace from this vision.
My mind has gone in many directions in attempting to figure out this vision - from the death of self to Satan is trying to kill me. I even had the thought of God giving me a warning that my day of departure is upon me. Everyone has a unique interpersonal relationship with the Lord. As in my walk with Him, He is always direct with me. In saying that, His clear inner voice said, "Today is the day." For what, I wondered, death? Well, it wasn't quite that dramatic. It was the day to start My Indwelling.
I have had a digital mock-up of my next pastel master on my 5 screens at my workstation for several weeks. This image of Christ with His hand on His heart has inspired me every day. On one of those days, He gave me the name of the next master, "My Indwelling." I have handcrafted 100s of masters over the years and few know, I war over each of them. Since I believe that each flaw is to be used for the whole of the image, the Lord has not allowed me to discard or restart any of my expressions.
What does all this have to do with my vision? Plenty. Many times the Lord doesn't answer my questions immediately, or in the way I anticipate. Sometimes He takes months or years to reveal the message. This time, on one of my darkest days, while staring at my screens, He says, "Today is the day." I jump up, ready my pastels, and start sketching the rough-draft. As I was beginning to apply the pastels, He speaks. I immediately see a deeper reason behind Him holding His hand over His heart. This time I see pain. I clearly began to see that His true cause of death was a broken heart. His heart hurt for the sufferings of the people, while intimately knowing His Father had indwelt Him through the Holy Spirit. The double-edged sword is revealed. I asked myself several questions, "Am I willing to join Christ in His sufferings? Am I willing to be one of many to carry the burden of the Church? Am I willing to die for such grief? I wept.
I process through creativity. Since my early grade-school days, whenever I felt sad or rejected, I would begin to draw. This is my "happy place." Due to this, in the late 70s, the Lord made it clear that I was to focus my art on His journey. For the most part, I have done this. What I didn't expect, this is where He would reveal Himself in Spirit and Truth. Today, I thank the Lord, as I die daily, leaving the lid of the casket angeled - providing plenty of openness to breath freely.
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Screaming Lies. I learned a valuable lesson being in the Dark Place this time. The enemy causes confusion between the phases of "Fellowship of Sufferings" and the Dark Place. This is where deception is birthed. I was reminded that high-impact emotions are present during each phase of this journey. So, how do we know we are about to enter the Dark Place? The soul will hear screaming lies! Not generalized lies, but...custom made lies that appeal to our flesh. These lies are specific in nature. Eruptive half-truths that surface from our formidable past. One of my not so favorite is, "Nobody cares."
Lies never work unless they are dressed up in sheep's clothing. Satan knows this trick of the trade well. Let's take the example of "Nobody cares." The facts are, most people don't care - minimally enough to come and rescue me. Two, by way of my past, I can count on one hand those who DID care enough to rescue. With these two being facts, the enemy throws in his twist. The lie comes into play with the word "nobody." He knows that the flesh of man clings to half-truths that represent the DNA of the flesh - death. Lies are fruitless to the enemy unless they produce death. There is no death in "some" don't care. But, there is certain death in "nobody cares." He knows that the "nobody" produces hopelessness. He also knows that where there is hopelessness, the heart grows sick. In sickness, he finds his canvas to colorize a self-identified identity from the trash the old-nature left behind. Once this is accomplished, he leaves us to our flesh. If anyone knows the objective of the flesh, it's Satan. Death is certain. Either by way of withdrawing from the Truth or by taking our own lives - suicide. Death will have its way. While in the Dark Place, this person is assured to take the "Self Pity" route to cope.
Go ahead, agree with the Truth hidden within the lie. This is the gateway of deliverance. Instead of resisting the fullness of the lie, which causes a relapse of the lie itself. We are called to extract the truth out of the lie. This is why I believe the Dark Place is healthy - it separates the flesh from the Spirit. The Lord has reminded me of the mandate of extracting the truth from these lies, laying them down at the feet of Jesus, embracing His Truth, which releases me to join Him in an intimate dialogue with Him directly. Here is how it plays out. The truth is, there are people who don't care. This is the truth I lay at the Lord's feet. Now I can appropriate His Truth - He cares. This helps me secure my identity in what God says versus mankind. The end results are I become more confident in the Lord by way of what IS true about me. Done deal. This opens doorway #1.
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The Fork In The Road. Yesterday, I received the grievous news of a fellow pastor (Harvest Fellowship, CA) committed suicide. This news ignited a discussion within a group of theologians, which I belong. Even though my detailed review will come out in a publication on September 30th (Suicide), I was reminded of my own lesson.
All must face the Dark Place. Yes, even the most positive of sorts. The late Pastor Jarrid was known within the megachurch community as one of the most energetic and positive pastors. His own wife said, "My husband, who was loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious, give the shirt off his back husband - went on to be with Jesus last night." This doesn't sound like a man who lived within the Dark Place. So what happened? Was he mentally ill? The consensus says, "yes."
Mental illness is a myth. In fact, it is an excuse. I will leave the rhythm and reason for my statement to a publication being released online on September 23rd (Depravity of Depression), but...there is a deeper issue being revealed. I learned an important truth from my Sunday School teacher back in the early 70’s – John Stevens, who wrote the book, “Suicide An Illicit Lover.” In personal discussions with him, he said something that has stayed with me throughout my ministry. He said the flesh remains in a constant state of suicide ideations – saved or unsaved. It is always searching for death. Saying, it literally carries the DNA of death. As Dr. Solomon taught me in those early days, suicide is a great solution, not unto physical death but death to the self-life. Someone needs to die. Since followers (those who practice the principles of Christ) confuse the message of the flesh with physical death, the enemy uses this confusion to terminate potential converts through suicide. Our enemy knows what we know, and certainly, Christ knows, this ends the opportunity of authentic conversion.
The Dark Place separates flesh from Spirit. This is why this place is so important. In conclusion, my Garden of Gethsemane experience is, we should welcome the invite. Most do what Jarrid allegedly did, make use of "pretty flesh" to avoid the reality of God separating the flesh from the Spirit. When the enemy deceives us into thinking that we are fighting flesh and blood (mental illness), we dig deep into our self-help bucket for deliverance, which results in more despair. How can we tap into the divine power to pull down these fleshly modalities unless we allow the Dark Place to separate the lies from the Truth?
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)
Gethsemane may not be a vacation destination but it certainly leads us to one. Let's pretend that Jesus tapped into His Divine power to avoid the Garden of Gethesmane. How would that have affected our destination place of Paradise? During my sabbatical, the Lord has revealed to me, every step/phase of Jesus' life, death, and eternal positioning was strategic and critical. Each phase parallels to ours.
He was born of the seed of God = we were born of the seed of man. (1 John 3:9)
He was to grow from childhood to man = we had to grow from childhood to adulthood.
He had to enter the "work-world" = we must enter the "work-world."
He had to be baptized into the water & Holy Spirit = we must be baptized in Spirit & water.
He was called to enter ministry = we are called to enter the ministry.
He had to suffer the price of ministry = we are called into the fellowship of His sufferings.
He was required to enter the Garden of Gethsemane = we are called to drink of the cup of suffering.
He was persecuted & made a martyr = we are called to bear-up under persecution.
He was required to die on the cross = we are required to embrace co-crucifixion. (Romans 6)
He was sent to the grave = we are co-buried with Him. (Romans 6)
He had to pay the price in the "lower-parts" - we appropriate His payment.
He was resurrected = we are co-resurrected in Christ. (Romans 6)
He was seated at the right hand of God = we are seated at the right hand of the Father in Christ. (Col. 3:3)
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Steve & Jane. Thank you for letting me know some of the details of your lives and your faithfulness to remain awake in this age of silence and indifference. I can relate to much of what you have said and been saying; I too have experienced wrestlings, pressings, and warrings in and through times of fears, anger, and despairs. I also realize your lives are unique workings of our infinite God to create each of you in His likeness and He is faithful to complete all that He is doing in and through you. I want you to be encouraged, first in and according to Christ, and by knowing you are valued, heard, and shared in my life; you have your own, specific place in every area of life, and you also share some familiar, unified space with some like me, in Christ. I love you both, hope to help and see you again, sooner rather than later. -CT | Georgia
I woke up to this prologue - timely, I might add. It truly was a preface to my experience. It also answered one of my questions, "Lord, why must I always be required to make my struggles public?" The same question one of my closest confidants asked me recently. My initial reply was, "Because I am being required to do so." After CT's message this morning, it all came into focus.
As I contemplate the reprehensible idea of Jesus, His disciples, Paul, or anyone of our Biblical characters withholding their personal stories from the public - well, I wouldn't be typing right now. Nor would any Body member of Christ have a compassionate comparison. Worst case scenario, not a single one of us would understand the price of love & service.
Vulnerability is vexing. Even though this is a misnomer in Christ, it is what the Lord has revealed to me as to the reason for "silent disciples." Pride is the backbone of vexation. Vex in its organic roots is, annoy, irritate, infuriate, anger, incense, inflame, enrage, exasperate, or to upset self or another. Why is this is at the core of "silent disciples" within the Body of Christ? I hesitate in saying this but...the answer is rudimentary. Vexation in the Hebrew is anger, bitterness, grief, sorrow, and provocation.
Here is what has been revealed to me. Fleshly man hides their cloaked anger, and bitterness to avoid being provoked by another. The spirit of pride blocks them from having their secret lies go public. Secondly, their flesh forms a demonic stronghold (spirit of pride) of "silence is protection." The ideology of "silence" forms a dark wall within the soul. This dark wall prevents others, self, and God from dealing with the hidden anger, bitterness, grief, and sorrow. This results in the "Christian" being fake - using self-deception, Christianized verbiage, self-talk, and last, but not least, Christian platitudes (religion). If this "spirit of pride" remains, the fleshly man becomes annoyed, and irritated, which can lead to infuriation - striking out at others through separating themselves from Truth sayers. Thus, they remain in a "silent" mode to protect the Christianized image each has worked to cement within the outside world. I will say it directly. They lie against the Truth. Thus, embedding the stronghold of, "Always learning but never able to come to the full knowledge of Truth." (2 Tim.3:7) The irony of all this is the "believer" continues to slip into silence to avoid the probability of the above Truth. This kind of silence is perpetuated & made cyclical by their own "spirit of pride."
There is a righteous form of silence. Jesus and others used it - as do I. This form of silence is "siope," to be hushed when harmed. This opens the door to the individualized interpretation of being harmed. A vexation Christian would say this is what they are doing within the walls of silence. Here are the facts. Authentic believers cannot be harmed by Truth, only set free. If a vexed Christian IS "harmed" by Truth, the sublime confession is, Christ is out to harm them. The origin of harm in the proper context of this form of silence is "dioko," meaning, to pursue with an intent to cause suffering. While I agree that Body members use Truth to harm others, the depictive here is found in the motive. To cause suffering or freedom. Whenever words are used to cause suffering instead of freedom, the righteous form of silence is required of the indwelt believer.
My primary struggle is typically in understanding the reality that present vexed Christians remain vexed. Many times unto death. Their "spirit of pride" never allows the Truth to penetrate the wall of darkness to reach the intimate place of Christ. Here is the progression revealed to me:
Walking => Persecution & Distress => The Dark Place => The Dark Place Separates the Flesh From the Spirit => We Choose One of Two Paths
The Path of Self-Pity => Leads Us Back To The Dark Place => Refuse Help From Other Body Members =>We Form Christianized Self-Help => Back to Our Fake World
The Path of Intimacy => Leads Us To The Inner Room Where Jesus Houses the Holy Spirit => Believer Enjoys Healing & Personal Directives from Christ Himself => Return To His Worldview With Clarity of Truth
So what is a vexed Christian to do? First asked to be broken beyond repair - of self-fixes that is. Secondly, invite a Truth sayer into your dark place. Allow them to point out items of interest that block full intimacy in Christ. Finally, do all of this as a lifestyle. Until next time...
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The above video was produced today as an encouragement for Karen Phinney, who victoriously battles cancer. Actually, it is dedicated to her. It was an honor to produce it in the midst of my sabbatical.
Yesterday was my breakthrough. I have visited the Garden of Gethsemane many times, unfortunately as a "sleeping disciple." After my intense discussion with the Lord yesterday, I did as I was asked - I went to bed. Keeping in mind that the Lord said He would minister to me in my sleep. After a sweet time of thanksgiving with the Lord before drifting off, my mind opened to the darkest dream I have had to date.
The dream started out with me working diligently at patching a crack in our basement floor (wounder where that comes from? lol) Present was myself, a primary spiritual son, Jane, several construction people, and an illuminated figure.
While working on this patch, directly to my left, something was pushing through the wall. I tried to stop it but made its way into the room. The creature was a cross between a rat and a mountain lion. While I was waring to get this thing contained, it started birthing baby creatures that matched its image. I looked around the room and everyone was expecting me to war this creature, now creatures, by myself. About that time, the ceiling of the basement starting pouring water, oddly enough, healing water. This leaking water alarmed me as to a leak upstairs. I noticed the "illumined one" knotting as if I needed to go upstairs immediately. So, I did. When I arrived upstairs, my spiritual son's children were running around in chaos. There was a construction guy laughing as if he was the one that created this chaos. I looked at him with a piercing stare, and he got sucked out through a window. I turned around to survey his damage and found rats running wild, and deadly bees threatening the children. As my spiritual son and I began containing this chaos, one of the rats turned into a laughing demon, who was eating the structural boards that held our home together. Without fear, I was swiftly approaching this demon, a voice said: "show your son how this is done." I told my son, "The only way to deal with these characters is by frying them. The 'illumined one' has given us a power of light that comes forth from our hands - aim at their core, and fry them." Thus, I pointed my finger at the heart of this creature and sure enough, the light came from my hand, and he began to fry. As I was beginning to walk away, my son alarmed me of what it was doing - gaining more strength. While hearing the "illumined one" say, "It is not finished," I turned around, placed my finger within inches of his heart, and released a death-blow of light. The creature shriveled up until it evaporated. Within moments the entire house was restored to a magnificently radiant warm home.
Here are the words my wife spoke over me:
This is as good as a promise. It has been good, it is good, and it will be good for me to bear the yoke. The yoke of censure is an irksome one, but it prepares a man for future honor. He is not fit to be a leader who has not run the gauntlet of contempt. Praise intoxicates if it be not preceded by abuse. Men who rise to eminence without a struggle usually fall into dishonor.
The yoke of affliction, disappointment, and excessive labor is by no means to be sought for; but when the Lord lays it on us in our youth, it frequently develops a character that glorifies God and blesses the Chruch.
Come my soul, bow your neck; take up your cross. It was good for you when young; it will not harm you now. For Jesus' sake, shoulder it cheerfully. - Charles Spurgeon
I like Paul, speak as if I am insane. How could such a dark dream become a venue for the Lord to "minister to my soul?" The following bullet-points is what the Lord confirmed to me.
It is a good thing for me to bear the yoke the Lord has put upon me. Fighting it refutes honor.
In my dream, all those within the home expected me to know what to do while expecting me to do the work. Why wouldn't they, they didn't know what to do.
Whenever evil is present, it rains living water. It was after being drenched in this water as I was moving to the upstairs that I became empowered with strength and confidence.
When I arrived upstairs, my inner man found the leader immediately who formed the chaos and dealt with it.
My objective became to protect and free the children from this power of darkness.
I clearly saw the need to show their father how to deal with this dark force through the inner Life and Light of Christ.
God's leadership removed the dark beast.
Restoration became the order of the day.
This dream clearly ministered to me. Throughout the dream, there was no fear, intimidation or hesitation. I didn't wake up in night sweats but rather strengthened. I have been reaffirmed in my calling. First, I cannot expect untrained or the weak, to know and do what I do! As with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, He came forward three times to rebuke the "sleeping disciples" but...He went right back to what He needed to do. I too must do this. Secondly, as the Lord said, the dream was not a nightmare, it was a "lightmare." Meaning, just because certain Bridal members of Christ are called to the frontline of darkness, doesn't mean it is a bad thing. Finally, it has been revealed to me that most of God's children rebuke the Lord when they rebuke darkness. What if that dark dream you had was for your future honor? What if those dark times are for the Lord's sifting, and He wants to show you something. For me, it's always about the Light!
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Yesterday was a rough day. I was reminded of a scene from the Martin Luther movie where he was locked in a dark room, alone, left to war with demons shouting lies at him. As the Lord knows, I am all too familiar with this scene. The Lord reminded me of the price His leaders must pay in paving the way for the future of the church. Facts are, the Reformation wouldn't have taken place without this servant sharing in the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. Bearing the price of understanding the deeper Truths in Christ is costly. But...I must admit, my wallet is feeling empty these days.
Fighting a battle that has already been won. Dear Lord, if this is true, why have you allowed millions of Your children to front the enemy on his turf, like Martin? His response? Stephen, it isn't his turf. It's Mine. He dares to tread upon My domain. I allow the enemy to encounter My Bride to bring the impurities to the surface. Your flesh is My enemy. Until I bring you home, it will wage war with My Spirit. This is the purpose of My sovereign allowance. Well...that is NOT what I expected. Now what Lord? I am about to reveal this mystery to you. Be patient.
Why am I obsessed with the "silent disciples?" Stephen My redeemed, I have burdened you with My Church, My Bride. I find only a few remaining who are willing to care enough to confront. Your burden is My command. Instead of reflecting on the cost, contemplate on the blessing of the eternal weight of glory. Then you will find My peace.
Why do I despise Christian platitudes? Because I do. Have you forgotten My commission for you to serve the lukewarm church? Religion is an abomination to Me. You have been chosen to be apart of our Father separating the 'goats from the sheep.' This commissioning is burdensome and cloaked in the rejection of religious men. Stephen, people of religion only know the meaningless words of their religion, what you are calling platitudes. Embrace My Words and you will be free to speak My Father's Words while expecting their lukewarm responses. Do you expect a cow to bark? I think you do.
But Lord, why must I constantly be swallowed up in my despair? Do you mean self-pity? Ok, Lord, self-pity. It takes My mind within you to separate self-pity from righteous indignation. If you think for one moment that I am not aroused to anger when My Bride is wounded, you do not know Me. Stephen, always remember, what others do to you, they are doing to Me. The day is coming upon the people when they will pay for harming, and insulting My Bride. This is not your concern. I am calling you to remain silent under persecution. Shout My Words upon the housetops, but when persecution and distress come, bear up under it. Like I did.
Lord, I'm tired. Why must I endure these dark places? I know you are Stephen. I will give you rest soon. For now, you must endure this hardship. Remember when I was in the Garden of Gethsemane? Without doubt Lord. Your thinking regarding My purpose of being there 'to front the enemy' is simply not true. I was there to speak to My Father - to make the request to remove this place of darkness I was required to embrace, My cup. I know personally what you are feeling. As for our enemy, he works fast and hard under times of distress. My focus was not to address the enemy, it was to address My Father. Satan hates this! I have a question for you. Yes, Lord. Will you drink of the cup our Father has set before you? I don't know. I know this is at the core of my war. I just don't know. My dear redemptive one, you will soon. When it arrives, you are required to drink from it. I will proclaim this to you My Bride. When the Father is finished with this cup, you will be a renewed man - I promise. Bring the cup. I can always count on you coming unto Me after you penetrate the wall of darkness. Does this give you an understanding of our Father's allowance of dark places? Yes, Lord. We are here in this place together. I weep now. I am without words. You are My beloved and I live in you. Go now and rest. I will minister to you in your sleep.
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Yet another known fact – I’m harsh with my delivery. On most days, my head rings from the gonging cymbal of my flesh (1 Cor. 13:1). The Lord has shown me that effective delivery requires Affective Love. Well, that’s a challenge Lord. Since I grew up having no clue what love was, this passage has always illuded me. I have been called to embrace the 10 indwelling descriptives required to effectively use my spiritual gifting, as well as the 4 manifestations of love (1 Cor. 13:4-8).
Patient is as impatient does. Not! I have come to realize that at the core of my harsh demands is the refusal to “delay long” – Greek definition for patient. He is calling me into long-suffering (James 5:10).
To be in the know is to be known. Another, not! The Greek for jealous is, to be sought. Realizing that I am a nobody can drive me one of two ways – to seek to be sought after or to be content with NOT being sought – “silent disciples.” Guess which one I tend to go with. His recent revelation, Greek for silence is, to muzzle. His promise to me – 1 Timothy 5:18.
Goodbye, childish things. Even though I know my flesh will wage war with the indwelling Spirit throughout my earthly days, I have come to realize the power of this passage, “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” (1 Cor. 13:11) In conclusion, the Lord revealed I must clearly put away, deny, embedded messages from my childhood in order to embrace the potency of His love. He also revealed that people who brag, are demanding to be loved for what they do. This is the opposite of His mission.
Liar, liar – pants on fire. To date, this was the most painful revelation. Those who brag, exaggerate the Truth & make themselves liars. Ouch, Lord! This habitual ideation went to the core of my bragging. My conclusion, the Lord’s Truth needs NO additives, not one.
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As you probably read, this is not a respite sabbatical, it is for wrestling. As expected, most interpreted my announcement of this sabbatical as a time of rest. While appreciating all the encouragements, I thank those who "hit the mark" - revealing their experiential understanding of such a dark place.
I hope to re-engage in local ministry as soon as the Lord releases me to do so. I started this extended time of prayer on Tuesday, Sept. 3rd. My first 18 hours were filled with the enemy screaming lies at me. I have never known such darkness. Each night my dreams are filled with dark images, while my waking hours are plagued with waves of despair. The unusual thing is, my writings are packed with the clarity of the Spirit. I know this is a personal war, for the burdens of the people of His church all have their own stuff. Therefore, I don't expect others to understand or carry my burden for the Church (2 Cor. 11:28).
Like Paul, I know well the daily struggle of dying daily but his encounter with the Lord regarding the messenger of Satan (demon) that continually was buffeting him was his unbearable burden (2 Cor. 12:7). This is the place I war the most. I am being called to experientially embrace, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in your weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9) This is what you can pray for me. I want to come out of this dark place knowing, "For I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor. 12:10)
SOME KEY ITEMS I LEARNED
Up to Wednesday of this week, I have been telling others that my spiritual gifting is like a curse - due to my constant visions and revelations of the Lord (2 Cor. 12:1). The Lord clearly revealed this reference must stop.
A well-known fact - I like to brag. Most of it is residue from my insecure childhood but some of it is an honest boasting of the power of the Lord. He revealed the importance of bragging about His accomplishments. When Paul said, "For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the Truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me (2 Cor. 12:6)" - for this is the balance I must discover.
Another known fact - I tend to have revelations deeper than the skin of the Scriptures. This why I formerly referenced it as "feeling like a curse." I am unable to listen, read or study the superficial elements of Truth AND what comes out of the mouths of people - all with seeing the heart of Christ in all communications. Honestly, I am tired of people calling me a "genius." The people that use this label do NOT understand one of my life-passages, "Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! (2 Corinthians 12:7) The more misguided compliments I get, the stronger the affliction. The smarter Paul got, the dumber he became. I get that today!
Since I am a bragger by default, the Lord has asked me to brag about my struggles, weaknesses & cognitive deafness, without expecting people to care or understand. (2 Cor. 12:9) I have touted for years, "He who thinks he is something when he is nothing, deceives himself." This is at the core of my calling into the Gethsemane Sabbatical. The real question, "Am I really willing to be a nothing?" My honest answer - "no!" By the end of this sabbatical, I'm am being required to say - "yes!"
Because of my insecurities, circumstances tend to dictate how I am doing on a given day. This single misnomer drives me like a sheep being led to the slaughter. On most days, I can't say what Paul said in Philippians, "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." This too is being required of me.
Stay tuned in, more lessons to come. Remember to pray for Jane and Jess. As with all who battle the forces of darkness, there is a residue effect on those around them. Until next time...
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